In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. (Genesis 1:1-5)
A new year, a new beginning, a starting afresh – it is an excellent time to go back to the beginning, the very beginning, of God’s grand design. I note three words that I pray will inspire you as they do me; they are the words “created,” “light,” and “good.”
Im and I love our winter Wisconsin walks. What beauty, what glory, what wonder in God’s creation. It is so different in springtime, in summer, in autumn, but oh, in winter there is so much splendor. By March you may say, “Oh, when will the snow go away!” but to walk in a gentle snowfall, when all is quiet and calm. Such joy. To see animals out foraging for food, to see plants withdraw and recede to prepare for spring, to view the vast Wisconsin sky. It is amazing and a strong reminder of how much we take for granted. The cycle of the seasons is God’s unfolding miracle day by day, year after year. God created all this. Thanks be to God.
Winter light is different, in brightest blue sky and steely gray sky, in shorter days and reflection off snow at nighttime. The light is different, but the light is all around us. Fireside light, candle glow, a single lamp that casts light on a page – all these God creates to fend off darkness. In dreary days and long nights, our bodies yearn for light, the light that is God’s gift to us. Physical light that guides us, inner light that illuminates our hearts and minds; our God is light for us. During these winter days, it is important for us to remember to be light for one another.
And it is good. What is “it”? It is God’s creation. The birds and animals, the sleeping forests and flowers, the snow and the rain and the sun. It is the stars in the sky, the clouds passing slowly overhead, the winter wind. It is every molecule, atom, element, and idea that ever existed, all at God’s whim. It is you, it is me, it is all of us together. It is every beloved child of God. We are good, because God says so!
As you move through this new year, celebrate. Celebrate God’s creation. Celebrate light. Celebrate life, because it is good. Go forth with a renewed spirit, knowing that God goes with you every step of the way. We are God’s people, God’s creation, God’s light; and we are good!
Blessed creator God, we give you our thanks and praise. Hear our voices, raised in adoration and gratitude. So fill us to overflowing with your Spirit that we might spread your light and grace to everyone we encounter, we ask in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.
May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).